Baptists in America: A History by Thomas S. Kidd

By Thomas S. Kidd

The Puritans referred to as Baptists "the troublers of church buildings all over" and hounded them out of Massachusetts Bay Colony. 400 years later, Baptists are the second-largest non secular team in the United States, and their impact fits their numbers. they've got equipped powerful associations, from megachurches to publishing homes to charities to undertaking corporations, and feature firmly tested themselves within the mainstream of yankee tradition. but the historic legacy of outsider prestige lingers, and the inherently fractured nature in their religion makes Baptists ever cautious of threats from inside of in addition to without.

In Baptists in America, Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins discover the long-running tensions among church, nation, and tradition that Baptists have formed and navigated. regardless of the instant of solidarity that their early persecution supplied, their background has been marked by way of inner battles and schisms that have been microcosms of nationwide occasions, from the clash over slavery that divided North from South to the conservative revolution of the Nineteen Seventies and 80s. Baptists have made an indelible impression on American non secular and cultural background, from their early insistence that the US should not have any tested church to their position within the modern day tradition wars, the place they often suggest higher non secular involvement in politics. but the extra mainstream they've got turn into, the extra they've been burdened to comply to the mainstream, a paradox that defines--and is key to understanding--the Baptist event in America.

Kidd and Hankins, either practising Baptists, weave the threads of Baptist historical past along these of yank historical past. Baptists in America is a impressive tale of ways one spiritual denomination was once reworked from persecuted minority right into a top actor at the nationwide degree, with profound implications for American society and tradition.

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He The Great Awakening 23 did not finish his degree there, deciding to attend a school at Swansea, Massachusetts, which had a Baptist church nearby. His college studies, though incomplete, made him an attractive pastoral candidate. He received his first opportunity to preach at Swansea in 1725. Unlike the relatively democratic preaching practices of seventeenth-century Baptists, the office of teaching elder had become a distinct, revered position by 1725. ”9 Soon after he began preaching at Swansea, John Clarke’s old church, the First Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island, invited Comer to become its pastor.

One rarely gets glimpses of the individual spirituality of these early American Baptists, but we do have an account of a remarkable experience by Philip James that may suggest that evangelical mysticism—including dreams, trances, and visions—was common among the Regular Baptists. Early Baptist historian Morgan Edwards noted that when one of James’s children died in 1753, the despondent pastor fell into a kind of coma. When he awoke, he told his family that during the trance my soul quitted my body [and] the resemblance of a man in black made towards me, and (frowning and chiding for wishing to die) took me up towards the sun, which filled me with fear.

This was a declaration in favor of a pure Baptist fellowship. Backus concluded that although one 34 B a p t is t s in A mer ic a could find many true Christians who believed in infant baptism, and that he loved them as brothers and sisters in Christ, they could not remain in church fellowship with one another. It was totally impractical because baptism represented, along with communion, one of the two primary rituals of the church. 37 Some Baptist itinerants seized upon the opportunities presented by the Great Awakening to convert new evangelicals and Separates to Baptist principles.

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